Ultimate Guide to driving the Icefields Parkway (2024)

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Very few roads in the world are as impressive as the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rockies, and this guide to driving the icefields parkway is the best resource you will ever need.

The Icefields Parkway is a magnificent 232-kilometre (144-mile) double lane highway that connects Banff and Jasper National Parks, celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes and UNESCO World Heritage status.

Renowned as one of the world’s most spectacular drives, its breathtaking landscapes, pristine lakes, lush green forests and towering glaciers make this drive one to remember.

The Canadian Rocky mountains is one of the most spectacular regions on the planet and the drive along the Icefields Parkway goes through the mostly beautiful but harsh seasons like the snowy winter months, the fall and summer months.

Every year Laura and myself fly back to Edmonton and spend weeks out in the mountains of Banff national park, driving up and down the entire Icefields parkway exploring the turquoise lakes, the many hiking trails, an abundance of wildlife and hidden waterfalls that make this place special.

In this article you’ll find our top suggestions on the best things to see on the Icefields parkway, recommendations on where to stay and our top travel tips.

Icefields parkway

Things to know before driving the Icefields Parkway -Best travel tips

The Canadian rockies spans a 232km stretch of road that runs between Jasper national park and Banff national park in the Canadian province of Alberta that travels along the continental divide.

The Bow river follows the parkway for most of the journey and at around about half way you will witness the spectacular Athabasca glacier of the Columbia Icefield.

If you’re driving in from either Edmonton or Calgary then the most accessible route is via the Trans Canada highway (Hwy 93) through the towns of Canmore to the south or Hinton to the north.

The Icefields parkway starts at the intersection of the Trans Canada highway at Lake Louise village heading north and ends in Jasper at the Yellowhead highway.

Read Next >> Plan your adventures in Canada using our Itinerary to Banff article

What is the weather on the Icefields parkway

The weather along the Icefields Parkway is extremely unpredictable, most notably at the changing of the seasons. Winters are harsh, with temperatures often plummeting well below freezing, turning the landscape into a winter wonderland.

Snow blankets the route, making it a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. However, as spring arrives, the temperature begins to rise, slowly melting the snow and revealing vibrant wildflowers.

Summer unveils the parkway’s most favourable weather, with pleasantly warm days and cooler nights, ideal for hiking and exploring.

Fall brings a breathtaking display of autumnal colours and the larch season unfolds, but with a noticeable chill returning to the air. These seasonal variations transform the Icefields Parkway into a year-round destination, offering something unique to every visitor, no matter the time of year.

How long does it take to drive the Icefields parkway

Practically you can drive the entire length of the Icefields parkway in about 3 hours but this means not stopping for toilet break, refuelling or taking photos (which you will want to do).

Laura and I drove the Icefields parkway in about 5 hours or so, as you will find out there’s so many places to see on the Icefields parkway and the vista’s are out of this world.

Read Next >> Make sure to check out our article on the Best Things to do in Banff 

Where can you stay on the Icefields parkway

We got into greater detail about this later on, but to summarise for you there is a mix of both lodges and hotels but the main type of accommodation on the Icefields parkway are wilderness hostels.

If you don’t want to stay in dormitory style rooms, the Glacier View Lodge offers upscale comfort and stunning glacier views if its luxury you’re after.

In contrast, hostels along the Icefields Parkway provide budget-conscious travellers with affordable lodging and a communal atmosphere and space. The choice between the two depends on your preferences and budget, with both options granting access to the Icefields parkway’s beauty.

When is the best time to drive the Icefields parkway

The best time to drive the Icefields parkway, Canada largely depends on your preference and what you hope to experience, however we personally prefer the shoulder months of June and September.

In the summer months, June to August the drive offers pleasant weather around the mid 20’s, wildflower bloomage, and easy road access to all attractions, lakes and rivers. Plus you wont be confronted with the masses of tourists that flock Banff national park.

On the other hand, September and early October showcase stunning autumn foliage and it’s the best time to do larch hikes and see the landscape completely turn colour!

If you prefer solitude snow capped peaks visit from November to April, but be prepared for cold and snowy conditions. Spring, in May, sees the parkway gradually thawing but with fewer crowds. Each season has its charm, so choose based on your desired experience.

There are some precautions to take when driving in winter however, here is a short list to remember

  • The road is open year round, but Parks Canada will close it due to severe avalanche risk
  • snow tires are mandatory from November 1st to April 1st
  • snow clearing occurs between 7am to 3pm by Parks Canada
  • The Saskatchewan river crossing closes for the winter months and is the only gas station on the Icefields parkway; so make sure you have plenty of fuel and emergency gear and clothing if you attempt this drive in winter.
  • Most other campsites, lodges and accommodation on the parkway close.
  • The Icefields parkway road conditions can be trecherous during winter, only drive to your ability.

What is the best time of day to drive the Icefields parkway

This one is very much a personal preference and also depends on your intention. If it’s magical sunrises and sunsets during golden hour that you’re looking for then we suggest waking up before sunrise (anywhere from 5am to 6am depending on the season) and being out there as the sun rises.

If you’re not a morning person then being on the road for 9 am will still mean you’re awake and enjoying the road before most.

Is it possible to drive the Icefields parkway free

Yes

To drive the icefields parkway is completely free with no toll booths or payment stations. This majestic road is however located within both Banff and Jasper national park and a Parks Canada pass is required to drive through here.

This comes in two forms, a single day pass or annual pass known as the Discovery Pass which gives you admission to over 80 national parks across the Canadian Rockies and Canada.

Once you have this displayed on the windscreen of your car, all of the Icefields parkway main tourist attractions like the Columbia Icefield, Athabasca glacier and the stunning glacial lakes like Peyto lake and Bow lake are ready to be explored.

Do I need to rent a car to drive the Icefields parkway

There are plenty of ways to travel along this stunning part of southern Alberta, you could book a guided bus tour, ride a motorcycle or ride a bike during the warmer summer months.

We would personally avoid using buses on this stretch of road from the perspective that there’s so many hidden place that buses simply wont be able to reach.

If you have your own car then you’re good to go; however the most versatile way that gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace is by renting a car.

The 14 places we mention in this article are all accessible by car and for the best rental car experience we suggest using Rentalcars.com. They’ve got a wide selection of vehicles and flexibility to suit your particular needs. Explore your options with Rentalcars.com

A black bear eating on the side of the Icefields parkway

Is there wildlife on the Icefields parkway

Banff national park is a wildlife haven predominantly from Spring right through to the end of Autumn when its not uncommon to see a mix of Grizzly bears, Black bears, Elk, Deer and big horn sheep frolicking around downtown Banff, Jasper and along the side of the highway.

Parks Canada have very strict rules when it comes to human and wildlife encounters that MUST be obeyed at all times, for the safety of the animals as much as the humans.

What you will undoubtedly see is when a bear is spotted grazing on the side of the road, cars will begin to congregate around the area and pretty soon a ‘bear jam’ will occur, with people leaving their vehicles to take photos.

Here’s a few safety to obey when on hiking trails or driving the parkway;

1) Keep 30 metres away from Deer, Elk, sheep and Moose

2) Keep 100 metres away from Bears, Cougars, coyotes and Wolves

3) dispose of all rubbish in official bins

4) Never approach wildlife

5) Obey the speed signs

6) Most of the parkway’s speed limit is 90 km/hr to allow motorists time to stop if needed.

It’s not uncommon to see many people ignoring these rules, so feel free to call it out when you see it…we do!

You can find a more detailed page of safety tips on the Parks Canada website.

Is the Icefields parkway, Banff worth it

Most definitely. You would be missing out on one of the world’s most scenic drives as voted by National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveller. Seriously though if you plan on making a trip to Jasper national park or Banff national park, are on your list then the parkway is right on your door step.

Where can I fill up on the Icefields parkway

There is only one gas station on the Icefields parkway; The Saskatchewan river crossing that’s also closed during the winter months so being prepared is crucial.

The Saskatchewan river crossing is one hour from Lake Louise village (80km) and just under two hours (153km) from Jasper town. See it on Google maps

We recommend filling up your car from one of the Petro-Canada service stations or Shell gas stations in either Lake Louise village or Jasper before starting your journey.

Cell phone service on the parkway

You will get great phone service on either side of the parkway in Jasper and Lake Louise Village but phone service and coverage is non-existent on the parkway itself until you get to the Columbia icefield discovery centre.

If you plan on doing any hikes in Banff national park along the icefields parkway then we highly recommend purchasing an emergency GPS device like a Garmin In-reach which relies on satellite GPS and can send SOS signals from anywhere. You may get some cell phone coverage at the Saskatchewan river crossing depending on the carrier also.

What are the must-see stops of the Icefields parkway

No other drive in the entire world has the scenery (in our opinion) and beauty than the parkway.

We go into more detail in the rest of the article but in case your time poor here is a short Icefields parkway itinerary

  1. Herbert Lake
  2. Hector lake
  3. Bow Lake viewpoint & Bow falls +crowfoot glacier viewpoint 
  4. Bow lake
  5. Peyto Lake viewpoint 
  6. Mistaya Lake
  7. Goats and glaciers lookout
  8. Waterfowl and Chephren lake
  9. Seskatchewan river Crossing (fill up gas) or drive to Abraham lake via David Thompson highway
  10. The Big Bend at Parker Ridge
  11. Walk on the athabasca glacier
  12. Drive the Columbia Icefield & Columbia Icefield skywalk
  13. Visit the discovery centre
  14. Lake Louise & Moraine lake

When to visit the Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies, with hotspots like Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, and Lake Louise, are just incredible year round. Each season has its own unique landscape that is honestly so beautiful, but there are a few factors that might influence our decision when to travel.

Let’s break it down:

Spring (April to June) is when the Rockies shake off their winter’s chill. Along the Icefields Parkway, colourful wildflowers pop up, and the air is crisp – one of the best times to go hiking in the Rockies and hit the trails to see cool spots like the Athabasca Glacier.

Summer (June to August) cranks up the heat, literally! It’s prime time for exploring the Columbia Icefield, Bow Lake, and everything along the Icefields Parkway. Think busy trails, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery.

Summer is also the busiest time of the year when prices are also astronomically high, but it’s a trade off for the nice weather.

Fall (September to October) brings a cozy, golden vibe. Trees show off their autumn hues, larch season officially begins and the Canadian Rockies including Lake Louise and Jasper National Park, are less crowded, making it super chill.

Winter (November to March) turns the Rockies into a snowy paradise. Some roads might close, but parts of the Icefields Parkway are still accessible, offering a peaceful, snowy backdrop to most of the mountains and lake system.

Just grab an Icefields Parkway map, pick your season, and hit the road for an epic adventure in the Canadian Rockies.

Check this one out next>> Summertime in the Rockies is a great time to explore Canada

How do I prepare to drive the Icefields parkway

Nothing beats a road trip along the Icefields parkway, visiting more than 5 pristine turquoise lakes like Peyto lake and Bow lake, however theres some things you should consider having with you on your drive to stay safe and be prepared.

Most of these considerations surround the winter months in Alberta, as from late October the snow has definitely set in, the roads are snowed in and avalanche risks are a real thing.

It is mandatory to have winter tires from November 1st in Alberta but we would not attempt this drive without a 4×4 vehicle regardless.

An emergency kit that includes an emergency GPS device, lots of warm layers, extra fuel, food and water. The only gas station is about half way down the road is closed during winter between November and April. 

Ultimate Icefields parkway itinerary – 14 Top spots to visit on your drive

Now that we’ve answered the most pertinent questions to preparing you for an epic road trip in the Canadian rockies it’s time we delved into the best things to do on the Icefields parkway.

We’ve written this list as if you are driving from Lake Louise village towards Jasper.

Herbert Lake

Your first stop on the road is 2 minutes from the parkway entrance, Herbert lake may not be glacially fed but on an early morning hike as the sun rises, the trees form the perfect reflection on the water with the peaks of Mount St. Piran and Mount Niblock in the distance.

There’s a small bathroom and large enough parking lot on site with well kept hiking trails around the base of the lake.

Hector lake

A beauty of the Icefields Parkway, isn’t your typical roadside view. You’ll need to stretch your legs with a 4.5-km hike to experience its charm. You’ll be rewarded for the effort though – it’s a hidden gem with emerald waters and a serene atmosphere, perfect for a peaceful escape.

It’s also a great alternative to some of the busier lakes of the rockies like Lake Louise and trust us they can get profoundly busy.

Num Ti Jah lodge of the Bow lake on the Icefields parkway

Bow Lake & Bow glacier

One of the largest lakes along the Icefields parkway is Bow lake, this glacially fed lake flows from the Bow Glacier into a massive turquoise lake.

There’s a few places to stop at to get the best views of Bow lake, the first is the Crowfoot glacier viewpoint, a small pull over car park with epic views of Crowfoot glacier with its distinctive three toes.

On the other side of the road is another car park that leads to Helen Lake and Cirque Peak, but more on that at the end of the blog.

The second stop is Bow lake viewpoint with almost panoramic views of the lake and the crazy mountain peaks of Bow Crow peak, crowfoot mountain, Mount Jimmy Simpson, named after the founder of Num Ti Jah Lodge and Vulture peak.

Two minutes up the road is where you will find a much larger car park with bathrooms, a brilliant and easy hiking track that leads around the base of Bow lake. 

Walk inside Num Ti Jah lodge to grab a coffee and discover a piece of history of the gentleman Jimmy Simpson who left England in 1986 and vowed to return here to built a lodge.

Bow lake is only a 32 km drive from Lake Louise village and easily accessible from the road on your way to Athabasca glacier, probably the pinnacle destination of the parkway.

The glacier here feeds the Bow river which winds its way through most of Banff and Jasper, eventually joining up with the Saskatchewan river. If you have time, consider hiking the 4.6km hike to Bow glacier falls.

Peyto Lake viewpoint on the Icefields parkway

Peyto Lake

Peyto lake is one of our all time favourite lakes in the Canadian Rockies and captivates us with its stunning beauty, that’s honestly second to no.

With a massive parking lot and a short 10-15 minute easy hike up to the viewing deck and you’ll have the best vantage point to view Peyto lake from above with complete panoramic views. The striking wolf-head shape of Peyto lake and the cobalt blue makes this an extremely popular place to visit on the Icefields parkway.

In the summer, the lake shimmers brilliantly under the sun’s embrace, while winter drapes it in a serene, white blanket. Compared to other lakes in the Rockies, Peyto Lake’s distinct shape and mesmerising colour make it an unforgettable highlight of our journey.

We love this lake in the summer, but winter time coats the trees and mountains in snow and makes for the perfect lake to photograph in winter.

Unfortunately there are no public buses that take you directly to Peyto Lake so having a rental car is the most convenient way of getting here.

With Rentalcars you have the ability to see the most popular things on the Icefields parkway at your own pace and beat the hoards of tourist that fill up the parking spots by 9am!

One way to learn about the history of the Icefields parkway whilst doing a self-drive is to purchase a smartphone audio tour from Get your guide. Get the coolest information about the rockies, play trivia with the family and find the best hikes, all from this audio guide.

Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya Canyon is a hidden gem of the Icefields parkway drive that offers a brief but rewarding adventure.

A short 1.1 km hike to a fenced bridge leads you to this natural wonder, where the Mistaya River has sculpted a narrow, mesmerising gorge. The carpark for Mistaya Canyon is small and fills up quickly in summer, so leaving your hotel early is best.

Not to be confused with Sunwapta falls or Mistaya mountain, Mistaya Canyon is 20 km (15 minute drive) from Mistake lake, Mistaya mountain is technically inShuswap, British Columbia 27.5 km away.

Goats and Glaciers lookout

Just as the name suggests, this small stop is very easy to miss but it’s views of both the Athabasca glacier and Athabasca river are not.

Mountain goats often congregate here to lick the salt on the side of the river bank thats dwarfed by Mount Kerkeslin in the back.

Don’t spend too much time here before moving on to your next adventure.

Waterfowl lakes

Waterfowl Lakes feature stunning turquoise waters set against the backdrop of Howes Peak,Aiguille peak and White Pyramid. These glacier-fed lakes offer incredible photographic opportunities with their vibrant reflections.

Waterfowl lakes are broken up into two seperate lakes, connected by a small river bed an on-site campground provides convenient accommodation. Be sure to take advantage of the easy access to neighbouring Chephren Lake, just a short hike away.

Chephren lake

You can complete a hike to Chephren lake form the waterfowl campground in a day trip from Banff if you prefer as it’s a relatively short 8.2km out and back trail with a mere 258m of elevation gain.

You could even bring a small picnic basket with you and take advantage of the peace of this lesser known Canadian rocky mountains lake.

Saskatchewan river crossing

Located 78.7 km from the Lake Louise village centre and roughly a third of the drive along the Icefields parkway this is also the ONLY place to fuel up before visiting both the Athabasca glacier discovery centre and finishing your drive from Banff to Jasper; as well as Jasper to Banff.

As if a gas station in Canada could get more pretty, Mount Murchison and Bison Peak make for the best re-fuelling in the world and they also have a gift shop with decent snacks, a restaurant attached the crossing resort.

If you have a Banff Icefields parkway map you will notice it’s right at the intersection of the David Thompson highway which will take you through to Abraham lake, Nordegg and eventually Edmonton.

It’s also the convergence of three major river systems in the Rockies; Mistaya, Bow and Howse river.

Big Bend and Weeping wall

1 hour and 17 minutes into your epic road trip on the Icefields parkway at approximately 114 km you will come across a bend in the road known as the Big Bend lookout. This lookout spot offers impressive views over the surrounding mountains that literally bends around the corner.

On your way here you will first come across Weeping wall, a small seasonal waterfall that comes to life on the right side of the Icefields parkway towards Jasper, however if it hasn’t been raining then chances are you will see nothing.

Both Panther and Bridal falls are close by, all but a short hike from a pull over spot on the right side of the road again. From here you can have a go at hiking Parker Ridge trail, an easy grade hike with sweeping views all around.

We often continue driving past these falls as we’re so close to exploring the Athabasca glacier.

athabasca glacier

Walk on Athabasca Glacier

When visiting the Columbia Icefields, the Athabasca Glacier is an absolute showstopper, and to save the confusion the athabasca glacier is a ‘toe’ of the MUCH larger Columbia Icefield.

Start your adventure at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre, where you’ll learn about this icy giant’s history, significance and the effects of global warming.

We did this hike on a day when the weather gods weren’t so kind to us with rain, snow and powerful winds all whilst being exposed to the elements; which was an experience in itself but on a sunny day you get fantastic views.

The guided tours of Athabasca glacier take you from the discovery centre for a 30 minute drive to the 10,000 year old ice sheets where you embark on guided glacier walking tour, using the Mercedes Benz all terrain vehicles, where the tyres are larger than the people.

The walk itself is not strenuous, but you should be prepared for all sorts of weather so checking the weather beforehand is essential.

To get even more adventurous, you can book a glacier crevasse guided tour from the experts themselves who share fascinating insights about this frozen world.

And if you’re looking for a unique perspective, you can combine the Columbia Icefield with the Ice explorer Skywalk; offering a glass-floored platform suspended over the breathtaking Sunwapta Valley and Athabasca valley below.

The general tours of the parkway include the bus trip to the Icefield, a walk on the glacier and the bus trip return via the Jasper skywalk, however there is an option to do the Jasper skywalk by itself.

Don’t forget to explore nearby attractions like the stunning Athabasca Falls or venture further along the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper, where even more natural wonders await.

This is one of the best Icefields parkway tours you can do, so, why wait? Book your next adventure now! Book your Athabasca Glacier tour here

Lake Louise shot from the lake before the Icefields parkway

Admire Lake Louise

We couldn’t exactly get away with writing all about the best places to visit on the Icefields parkway without including the most iconic lake in the rockies.

Lake Louise isn’t on the parkway itself but it’s a mere 9 minute drive from it. This stunning emerald lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountain backdrop where you can hire canoes and kayaks from the lake Louise canoe hire shop, or try stand up paddle boarding for the first time.

Shadowed by the impressive 5 star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the parking lot fills up before 9 am so getting in early is essential if you want a spot, but will set you back $21 cad.

See the famous Lake Moraine

This lake becomes so busy that Parks Canada have had to shut private vehicle access and only allow public shuttle buses, bus transport and a myriad of private guided tours.

Most visitors try to visit both lakes in the same day as they are only seperated by a 20 minute bus drive. 

Here’s a few ways you can see this pristine lake

  • Moraine lake Bus company
  • Roam public transport
  • Lake Louise Inn shuttle
  • Park and Ride system

Your Icefields Parkway Travel Guide

Now that you know all the best spots to visit lets take a look at the best places to stay and the best hikes in the rockies.

Best hikes on the Icefields parkway

Depending on your level of fitness there is every type of hike on the Icefields parkway from very easy to mountaineer level.

The seasonal changes affect hike status and Parks Canada often close hikes and/or road access due to severe weather, as well as recent bear sightings to keep the public safe.

We use AllTrails as an amazing tool to help us navigate out way on the correct path, record our trip length and time and get the most up to date information.

Pro Tip: Ensure you have at least 2 litres of water per person with varied layers of windbreakers, rain jackets, fleece and/or down jackets, a great pair of hiking boots, hats and sunglasses.

This list will change depending on time of day, length of hike, whether your hiking backcountry or front country and your own level of fitness.

We’ve done basic 1 hour loop hikes with no elevation gain and have come into close contact with Grizzly bears on the Lake Minnewanka lakeshore trail so carrying bear spray at all times is a must. There’s tons of outfitters in both Calgary, Lake Louise village, Banff and Canmore where you can pick up bear spray.

Knowing all that, here is a short list of hikes to try that you can use:

Parker Ridge Hike:

  • Hike Length: 6.4 km (3.9miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Estimated Hike Time: About 2 hours 20 minutes

Mistaya Canyon Trail:

  • Hike Length: 1.9 km (1.1mile)
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Estimated Hike Time: 30 minutes

Bow Glacier Falls Hike:

  • Hike Length: 8.9 km ( 5.5 miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Estimated Hike Time:t 3-4 hours

Bow Summit Hike:

  • Hike Length: 6.8 km (4.2 miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate to Difficult
  • Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours

Wilcox Pass Trail:

  • Hike Length: 11.6 km (7.2 miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Estimated Hike Time: 3-4 hours

Geraldine Lakes Trail:

  • Hike Length: 11.7 km (7. miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Estimated Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Cirque Peak via Helen Lake :

  • Hike Length: 16.1 km (10 miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Estimated Hike Time: About 5-6 hours

Valley of the Five Lakes Trail:

  • Hike Length: 4.8 km (2.9 miles)
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy to Moderate
  • Estimated Hike Time: 1-2 hours
Icefield parkway hikes

Where to stay on the Icefields parkway

There are three main types of accommodation of the Icefields parkway; hotels, hostels and campgrounds.

Depending on your Icefield parkway itinerary you could choose to travel on a budget and explore all the best attractions in Alberta, or splurge on luxury accommodation and enjoy the scenic drive.

The BEST hotels on the Icefield parkway

  1. Glacier View Lodge: Located near the Columbia Icefield, open seasonally (May-Sept), around 106 km from Jasper and 130 km from Banff. This is the most luxurious accommodation on the Icefields parkway map

Conveniently located at the Columbia icefields discovery centre for those wishing to go on an Athabasca Glacier tour or to walk the Jasper skywalk. Those visiting Jasper will find it easier to reach this point than from Banff. 

2.The Crossing Resort: Situated at the Saskatchewan River Crossing, open seasonally (May-Oct), approximately 96 km from Jasper and 174 km from Banff is almost right in the middle of the parkway and the only place to refuel.

Complete with a pub and a sauna on site their double queen rooms, king and executive suites range in price from around $160 to $240 CAD per night during the low season and can increase to around $380 CAD per night.

Pets are allowed in a limited number of rooms however be sure to get in early because they tend to sell out fast. The fee for pets is $40 per night with a maximum of 2 pets/room.

The best part about booking a stay at the Crossing resort is its proximity to local attractions on the Icefields parkway like Bow lake, Columbia icefields, the Saskatchewan glacier and Cirrus mountain.

3. Sunwapta Falls Lodge: A charming lodge, open seasonally (May-Oct), around 53 km from downtown Jasper is also one of the best hotels in Jasper. The lodge has reasonable amenities like coffee and tea facilities, a fridge, satellite TV and comfortable seating and bedding.

It’s not exactly in the middle of the Icefields parkway though, so this is the better option to stay if you’re driving from Jasper.

Our top picks of the best Hostels on the parkway

  1. HI Athabasca Falls: A budget-friendly hostel near Athabasca Falls, open seasonally, about 35 km from Jasper.
  2. HI Rampart Creek: A rustic wilderness hostel along the parkway, open seasonally, approximately 88 km from Jasper.
  3. HI Mosquito Creek: A rustic mountain hostel, open seasonally, around 109 km from Jasper.

The BEST recommendations for camping on the Icefields parkway

Camping is our personal favourite way of staying on the parkway AND in the Rockies to be honest, the feeling of waking up surrounded by snow capped mountains, fresh morning air and being out in nature is worth more to us than staying in nice places.

Here are our top 2 picks for camping on the parkway.

  1. Wilcox Creek Campground: A scenic campground with basic facilities. This campsite is targeted to those with trailers and RV’s, but they still have around 46 tent sites with no services but a fire pit. What else could you want? Check them out here
  2. Silverhorn creek campground: North of Peyto lake and you find yourself in beautiful mountain scenery with 45 campsites that include a fire pit and picnic shelters and they do operate on a first come, first served basis so be prepared to find a busy camp site.

How to navigate the Icefields parkway

As we mentioned at the start of the article your choice of travelling on the parkway is a little limited but here are a few options to consider.

  • Hire a rental carRentalCars.com is a great resource for finding the best deals on cars in Canada; both reliable and budget friendly options.
  • Bus tours – if you prefer to look out the window and be shuttled around then companies like Discover Banff Tours, SunDog tours and the Brewster Express do just that.

Final thoughts on driving the Icefields parkway

Driving the icefields parkway truly is one of the best things to do in Canada and one of the most scenic drives in the world you simply cannot miss when you visit the northern hemisphere.

Hopefully you’ve been able to plan your adventures to the Rocky mountains using this guide, and if you would love to know more or have any questions then check out our full list of Canada articles below. 

DISCLAIMER: This blog contains affiliate links and personal recommendations. When you click on these links and make a purchase, we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. These commissions help support the maintenance and growth of this website, allowing us to continue providing valuable content to our readers. Rest assured that our recommendations are made based on our genuine belief in the products or services mentioned, and your purchases through these links contribute to the sustainability of this platform. We appreciate your support and trust in our recommendations. 

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Christopher Aiello
Christopher is the head writer and co-founder of Chris and Laura Travels. Having travelled to over 27 countries and counting, he has a passion for adventure travel in a responsible way. Christopher and Laura currently live in Melbourne but share their time between down under and the Canadian Rockies of Alberta. We aim to inspire others to get outside and explore through our storytelling imagery and video. Keep up to date on where we are by visiting us on our Instagram page or find out more of our story on our About us page.

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Chris & Laura

Australian and Canadian freelance photographers & storytellers addicted to travel,  inspiring you to travel the world.

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